Overtone Review: Dyeing My Virgin Hair

You know how when people go through a lot of stress or a life event, they change their hair? That was me this fall.

I haven’t been through anything terribly traumatic personally this year, but the combined stress of all of 2020 finally got to me. I have never dyed my hair, or wanted to, but I started thinking about it this summer. As usual, the tech giants read my mind and I started getting ads for Overtone.

Overtone is new type of hair dye that doesn’t strip your hair’s natural color or change it chemically. Instead, it’s a semi-temporary conditioner that deposits pigment on top of your strands. Your final hair color depends on your natural hair color underneath (hence the name Overtone), and if you don’t use the lower-pigment daily conditioner after you color your hair, it fades out within a few weeks. It seemed to me like a cheap and safe way to experiment with a different hair color.

My natural, starting hair color, featuring my quarantine regret bangs which are growing out.

My natural color is a light brown/dark blond. Because I decided I wanted to be Sheila from GLOW for Halloween, I got one tub of black conditioner and one tub of espresso brown. I started out mixing 5 parts black to 1 part brown and got this. It was a little shocking as it’s so different from my natural color, but it didn’t stay this intense for long.

Right after the initial dye, after it dried. The red shirt makes it look pretty stark!
The morning after the intial dye. Please note I did not wear the same outfit two days in a row to work, lol.

The morning after I dyed my hair I didn’t wash it, but stuck with dry shampoo. I tried to wash it only every other day for a few days and then went back to washing it every day. It started to fade pretty quickly, but I liked how it faded. On me, the mix of brown and black dye plus my natural color faded into an deep and then a lighter auburn.

Two days after dyeing. Still pretty dark.

Two days after dyeing, my hair was still pretty dark. I think I used dry shampoo that day too; I can’t go much longer than that without washing or I feel gross. Because I hadn’t really washed my hair yet, my scalp looked a little purple from the residual black pigment. I’m still surprised my boss at work didn’t say something to me!

Four days after dyeing.

Four days after dyeing it, it started to look auburn in the sun but still more brown indoors. The underside of my hair stayed darker than the top, although I think that has more to do with my dye job than the dye itself.

A week after dyeing. Weirdly, this looks darker than the previous picture, but I was indoors. The dark auburn tone around my face went well with my sunset eye experiment!

Weirdly, the photo from a week after dyeing looks darker than the previous picture, but I was indoors by a window for that one (as opposed to in my car in full sun). The dark auburn tone around my face ended up going really well with my sunset eye look I tried that morning.

Nine days after initial dye.

Nine days after dyeing, my hair started to tone back to my natural color. It still pulled reddish in the sun, but looked much lighter and more even.

Eleven days after dyeing.

Eleven days after dyeing, my hair was darker than my natural color but no longer so different than it was those first few days. After letting it fade without using the daily maintenance conditioner, I knew I was okay with how it faded, so I bought the espresso brown daily conditioner too. I’ve since dyed it once more, mixing the rest of my black dye with about a third of my leftover brown. I’ll have enough to do it once more with the brown only. I plan to try and maintain my color with the daily conditioner until it runs out, then dye it the last time and just let it fade back to normal.

After dyeing for the second time, with less black dye mixed in.

I really like Overtone. Because it’s a conditioner, it’s made my hair really soft, which is nice. The color payoff is good too. Now that I’m a few days into my second go-round, I don’t love the brown as much as I did when it was mixed with black, because on its own it’s a little warm for my skin tone. But when it fades out so quickly, it’s still worth it to have a change. I wish my work dress code was a little more adventurous, because I’d love to try their pink or teal option. But for something that’s so temporary and so easy, this is definitely worth a try. Now I’ve scratched my hair color itch without damaging my hair. Win-win!

Have you ever tried Overtone or other temporary dye?

NaNoPoblano 2020: 6/30

Jan 20, 2021 Update: This post continues to get views so I want to add a quick update now that I’ve stopped using Overtone for a bit. After my second full Overtone dye, I used the color conditioner a few more times until it ran out. As of today, I do think my hair is still slightly stained from using so much Overtone last year, especially on the top parts of my hair where it was lighter to begin with. It’s not bad or obvious; it just still looks a little warmer and more auburn than my natural color. Clarifying shampoo has not helped strip that out. I may try using a purple or blue shampoo to tone the brightness down a bit, but I would also be fine letting it just grow out. It still is not a bad look, but I would have appreciated knowing that it can stain hair before I used it multiple times in a row. So I’m letting you know too!


  1. This was far more entertaining than I would ever have thought a series of photos of gradually changing hair color could be. And I think it looks great in that last photo!

    Also, unrelated to hair, I really like your cardinal directions pendant.

    Back in my Rocky Horror days, I used to use colored hair spray for single night color changes. It comes out with a single wash, which let me have very vivid hair for very short periods of time.

  2. I’ve been eyeing Overtone for a while now, and all this turmoil has made me wanna exert some control and try something new. I first dyed my hair in high school, and every since then I’ve dyed it maybe once or twice a year with a boxed dye from the grocery store. It’s a fun way for me to mix things up without spending very much money.
    Since the pandemic is delaying my return to the workforce after having kids, I’m considering trying something pink, as I’ve only ever dyed my hair actual hair colors in the past.
    Thanks for the review! I might just dive in and give it a try.

    • Mine is like a dark strawberry blonde or a light auburn maybe. Right there on the cusp between blonde, brown, and red.
      Did you buy special shampoo to maintain the color? Is that something you’d recommend?

    • I didn’t buy anything different other than the color conditioners and the daily conditioner. Not quite sure on the shampoo thing but I think overtone recommends sticking with your normal routine. They have good customer service too and will do a quick consult over email!

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